VOTERS would rather Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar led the opposition to the SNP in Holyrood than the Conservatives' Douglas Ross, a new poll has found. 

Polling by Survation, commissioned by Labour, found 40 per cent want Mr Sarwar to lead the opposition if the SNP form the next Scottish Government.

This compares to just 22% for Mr Ross, while 38% don't know.

READ MORE: Exclusive poll: SNP on course for majority at Holyrood election

Mr Sarwar also comes out on top when results are broken down for all age groups, men and women, and both Yes and No voters.

Meanwhile, 20% of Scottish Conservative voters in the 2019 General Election would prefer to see Mr Sarwar lead the opposition rather than Mr Ross, the Scottish Tory leader.

Survation polled 1,008 Scots aged 16 and over between April 23 and 26.

They were asked: "If the SNP were to form the next Scottish Government, which party leader would you prefer to lead the opposition in the Scottish Parliament?"

Despite the findings, polls show Labour are on course for third place at the Holyrood election on Thursday, behind the Tories. 

An exclusive poll by BMG Research for The Herald on Sunday suggested the SNP would win 68 seats, up five on 2016 and giving the party a majority.

The Tories would win 25 seats, down six; Labour would win 18, also down six; the Greens would win nine, up three; the Liberal Democrats would win seven, up two; and Alex Salmond's Alba Party would win two.

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: "Douglas Ross is a conman - and the Union won’t be safe if he is the leader of the opposition.

"While the SNP plot a referendum in the middle of a pandemic, Douglas Ross wants to give Nicola Sturgeon the greatest get out jail free card going - himself.

"But the truth is the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross and Boris Johnson are the biggest threats to the United Kingdom.

"Things are so bad that even Ruth Davidson has walked away.

"Only Anas Sarwar can stand up to Nicola Sturgeon’s arguments of divisions and keep the parliament focused on recovery.

"If you want a country focused on what unites us, not what divides us then use you second vote, on the peach ballot paper, to back Anas Sarwar and Labour’s national recovery plan."

The Tories pointed out that Mr Sarwar was the favourite of 46% of 2016 SNP voters, suggesting he is the top choice for those who support another referendum.

Former party leader Ruth Davidson also highlighted two polls over the weekend, including BMG's, showing "Labour on course for their worst ever result".

She said: "It’s clearly panic stations at Labour HQ and as a result, they’ve turned their fire on the wrong opponent.

"I have known Douglas Ross for over a decade and he is utterly sound on the Union.

READ MORE: Majority of Scots think Alex Salmond 'not fit and proper person' for Holyrood seat

"Anas Sarwar's Labour Party, however? Well, with seven of the current crop of candidates on the record supporting another independence referendum, who knows whether they'd give in to the nationalists.

"No wonder polling shows that SNP voters would much prefer Labour as the opposition.

"With cosy Labour/SNP pacts in councils right across Scotland, separatists expect a much easier ride from Labour than a Scottish Conservative party which actually stands up to them at Holyrood.

"All the evidence from poll after poll shows that the only way to stop an SNP majority and indyref2 is for pro-UK voters to lend their peach party list ballots to the Scottish Conservatives."